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Financial Fitness Task 9: Calculate the Cost of Your Commute #30DaysofGOOD

How much is your ride costing you?

Things are easier said than done, or so the old adage goes, and we couldn't agree more. That's why we do The GOOD 30-Day Challenge (#30DaysofGOOD), a monthly attempt to live better. Our challenge for January?Financial Fitness.

Calculate the cost of your commute.

If you find yourself in a routine of driving to work because it's quicker than busing, or taking a train because it's less sweaty than biking, there might be a financial incentive to shake up your commuting schedule. At least, that's what I figured out when I used the IRS's automobile standard mileage rate of $.55/ mile to put a price tag on my annual commute.

While the actual amount could vary depending on what kind of car you drive, I'll trust the federal government's projection that my 4.8 mile commute in my Honda Civic costs me $26.40 weekly. I'd estimate that I'm in the office roughly 46 weeks of the year, when I subtract for work-from-home days, vacation, and travel. So if I were to commute by car every single day that I go into the office, I'd spend $1,214.40 just to get from my house to work (Damn! See math below). That's a huge investment considering I spend all day on the placeless internet anyway.

Luckily, GOOD provides its employees free bus passes, and coworkers who double as neighbors make carpooling easier. These options are completely free for me to take advantage of. Taking the bus or hitching a ride just two out of every five days of the work week—which I do already—saves me $486 a year. Another way to save money (and my health and the planet, of course) is to bike to work. Biking isn't free: L.A.'s mean streets wreak hell on my Bianchi. More commuting equals more money on new tubes and bike repairs. California lets employees charge their employers $.04 a mile for biking expenses. So, if I managed to bike once a week instead of driving, I could save an additional $225 per year.

Add it to the 2012 resolutions list!
(4.8 miles * $.55 / miles * 2 times/ day * 5 times / week = $26.4 per week
$26.4/ week * 46 weeks/ year = $1,214.40 / year)

Come back tomorrow for the next task in our financial fitness challenge.

Propose an idea here for a project or workshop that promotes financial fitness in your community. The top-voted idea will win $500 to implement the project.

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